Every time I visit the South, I am reminded anew of how special and comforting Southern cuisine is. This Shrimp and Grits Recipe is one of the best ways to enjoy it, no matter where you live. Creamy cheesy grits are the perfect pairing with boldly-spiced baked shrimp!
Why You’ll Love This Southern Shrimp and Grits Recipe
- Southern Food Is the Best Food. Am I betraying my Midwestern roots by admitting this? The abundance of high-quality fried chicken (try this Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast for similar vibes), cheese straws, and Sweet Potato Pie make Southern cuisine inviting and delictable. This cajun shrimp and grits recipe lightens up a classic Southern dish.
- A Study in Contrasts. The succulent shrimp with creamy grits! The cheesy, buttery grits livened up by the Cajun spices in the shrimp! When you bring it all together, you have a perfectly balanced dish. It’s the same principle as this creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta.
- Lightning Fast. Shrimp, as we know from Garlic Butter Shrimp and Honey Walnut Shrimp, cooks quickly, and so do grits. You’ll only need 5 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cooking and dinner is done.
- Hello, Lean Protein! Shrimp is a fantastic—and often over-looked—source of protein. This easy shrimp and grits recipe packs in 32 grams of protein per serving. (Want more protein-packed shrimp recipes? Try my Kung Pao Shrimp, Garlic Shrimp Pasta, or Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos.)
5 Star Review
“This recipe was absolutely perfect. This was much lighter but tasted exactly right.”— Andrea —
How to Make Shrimp and Grits
- Shrimp. Protein-packed, quick-cooking, and delicious.
- Shrimp Seasoning. A cajun-inspired mix of paprika, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, pepper, and salt. It’s smoky, a little spicy, and packed with bold flavors. Love these flavors?
- Grits. Due to their mild, neutral flavor, grits are a blank canvas. In this recipe, they soak up the buttery, cheesy goodness and Cajun seasonings from the shrimp.
- Butter. Grits and butter were meant to be. The butter helps ensure the grits are rich, creamy, and flavorful. Traditional grits often call for half-and-half, but I found the grits to be plenty rich and creamy without it.
- Cheese. What goes well in shrimp and grits? Cheese does! Parmesan and sharp cheddar cheese pair perfectly with the Cajun seasonings and melt lusciously into the grits.
- Green Onions. For a touch of freshness and crunch in this shrimp and grits recipe.
- Combine. Slowly whisk the grits into a pan of boiling water.
- Simmer. Cook until the grits are thick and creamy.
- Add Remaining Ingredients. Remove the grits from the heat.
- Stir. Keep stirring until the cheese melts.
- Season. Toss the shrimp with the seasonings and oil.
- Bake. Cook at 400 degrees F for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Finish. Serve the shrimp over the grits with additional cheese and green onions. ENJOY!
- Grill the Shrimp. Use the cooking method in my Grilled Shrimp Recipe instead of making the shrimp in the oven. You’ll add some smoky flavor to this shrimp and grits recipe!
- Make It Milder. You can dial back the Cajun seasoning if you’re not a fan of spicy food. Alternatively, you can swap in my Grilled Shrimp Seasoning for a slightly different flavor.
- New Orleans Shrimp and Grits. New Orleans is known for shrimp and grits that uses tomato. For a twist on this take, add halved cherry tomatoes with the green onions.
- Shrimp and Grits with Bacon. Add cooked and crumbled bacon just before serving (try my Air Fryer Bacon or Oven Baked Bacon).
- Cajun Shrimp and Grits with Sausage. Add cooked andouille sausage to the finished grits with the shrimp. (Fans of shrimp and andouille sausage, you’ll love my Cajun Shrimp Boil Foil Packets.)
- Use Polenta. Both grits and polenta are made from ground corn, but polenta is a bit coarser and chewier. That said, if you prefer polenta or happen to have it on hand, you can use that for the base of this recipe.
- To Store. Refrigerate this shrimp and grits recipe in separate airtight storage containers for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze shrimp and grits in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Shrimp and Grits
- Vegetables. Add a vegetable on the side and you’ve got yourself a complete meal! Try Sautéed Green Beans, Roasted Broccoli, or Air Fryer Zucchini.
- Salad. Keep things light with a simple salad like Arugula Salad.
- Cornbread. Round out this shrimp and grits recipe with Sweet Potato Cornbread, Cornbread Muffins, or Jalapeno Cornbread.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Saucepan. You’ll love this saucepan for everything from grits to sauces.
- Baking Sheet. Perfect for baking the shrimp.
- Cheese Grater. High-quality and incredibly easy to use.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Grate Your Own Cheese. It adds a little more work to this recipe, but the payoff is worth it. Cheese grated fresh from the block melts smoother and creamier than the store-bought bags of shredded cheese. That’s because those bags of cheese have an anti-caking agent added (AKA the white powdery stuff) that prevents it from clumping in the bag and keeps it from melting smoothly.
- Add the Grits Slowly and STIR. This is key to smooth, creamy grits without lumps.
- Don’t Overcook the Shrimp. Shrimp cook FAST, so it’s dangerously easy to over-cook them! They’ll go from translucent to opaque and pink when they’re done cooking; they’ll also curl slightly into a C-shape.
Shrimp and Grits Recipe
For the Grits:
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking or regular grits not instant
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese about 2 ounces
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese about 1 ounce, plus additional for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions white and green parts, plus additional for serving
- In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, then slowly add the grits in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in the butter, black pepper, cheeses, and green onions.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, paprika, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss gently to coat. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast the shrimp for 5 to 6 minutes, until just pink and cooked through.
- Serve the shrimp over the grits, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese and green onions.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate shrimp and grits in separate airtight storage containers for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze shrimp and grits in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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